Category Archives: Foods

Hay-ing Time is Here!

We have a friend who has a rather large farm in a small community near where we live.  We became acquainted many years ago when we became amateur radio operators.  He was a single man who still lived with his parents on the farm. And he was a ham, too.

Amateur radio operators, or hams for short, are big on helping others.  The Rome group put up antennas together, raised money to help others and had a lot of pot luck dinners together.  When we built our house, our farmer friend brought his tractor to our house to lift the shingles up on the roof.  If you have ever tried to carry shingles up a ladder, you know how hard that is.  We owed him big time.

Several months went by before he “called in” this favor.  He always baled hay and stored it for his cattle to eat during the winter.  He also sold hay to other farmers. The thing about hay is that it is cut and has to lay for a bit before it is baled.  It can’t get wet.  So sometimes you end up baling a lot of hay right before storms move in to the area.  So he asked for our help with the picking up of the bales.   In those days, the bales were those square hay bales like those you can purchase at the big box stores.  He did not have those gigantic round bales.  We set a time for the next afternoon about 5.  That meant that my husband would be done with work, I would be done with my 5th grade teaching for the day and both our kids would be done.  This sounded like a good plan to us.

So the next afternoon we put on our jeans and long sleeved shirts and boots and headed to the farm.  I was going to drive the tractor that pulled the long hay wagon.  Everyone else would pick up bales and toss them up on the wagon.  After we got a bunch on the wagon, one of the men would start stacking them up higher.  Sounded ok to us. Then we realized that our daughter was too short to get the hay bale up on the wagon.  So our friend gave our daughter a short lesson in tractor driving and she became the driver.  She was SO excited.  After all she was only in the 5th grade and got to drive!  I became a bale tosser.  It was hard work.  You would run ahead and grab a bale and throw it up over your shoulder to the wagon.  Then you ran ahead and grabbed another.  And threw.  And ran.  And grabbed.  And threw.  You couldn’t miss a bale.  I must say that I have never done such a physically demanding job in my life.

We finished about dark with that field.  Exhausted is not the word I would use to describe how I felt.  Then our friend had a surprise for us. His dad had made ice cream for us! Yum! Somehow everything just equaled out…………..

Another installment of “Life on the farm” coming soon!

 

 

Yes, I ate that as a child!

Today many parents are greatly concerned with the food that they make or purchase for their children.  Even children know the words sugar-free, gluten free and organic-just to name a few.  In reality, these words are fairly new “inventions.” When I was a child, they had not even been invented. I had a blissful childhood, stuffing myself with good, home-cooked foods.  I also enjoyed some grocery items that today would be considered hazardous to my health. Yikes!

For example, Coca-Cola had been invented and no one thought that consuming a Coke as being bad for you.  They came in glass bottles and you had to use a “church-key” to pop off the top.  They were pretty strong and would almost take your breath away.  My doctor actually encouraged the drinking of a Coke by giving his “good” children patients a wooden nickel that could be used in the Coke  machine in the lobby for a “free” Coke.  I was always a good patient!

Moon Pies were very popular when I was a child.  They were chocolate and had a cracker and marshmallow inside.  I loved them and my mother thought they were a good snack. Yippee!

Bologna was pretty popular when I was a child.  I ate it on Colonial white bread with some Duke’s mayonnaise.  It was yummy with some red Kool-aid, dill pickles and Charles Potato Chips.  It was the “perfect” lunch and SO GOOD FOR YOU! Everyone ate this.  And when you took this for your lunch to school, it sat in your desk with mayonnaise and no refrigeration. I was not a fan of this but I knew kids who loved mayonnaise sandwiches.  Or mayonnaise and Kraft American cheese slices on white Colonial bread. It had additional “nutrients” added to make it healthier for you!  Yeah-right!!!

It was a real treat to eat some Vienna Sausages. They were best to pop off the lid, pour off the fatty liquid and then pull one out and pop it into your mouth. Heavenly! My grandchildren have even eaten these! But it was their other grandmother who provided them!  Ha-Ha!

One final item that everyone ate in those days was Spam.  You could pull of the lid, drain off the fatty liquid, and fry it in a skillet on the range top.  It took the place of a “meat” for the family.  It is also excellent with scrambled eggs. It’s almost like ham and eggs.  I never thought about what pieces and parts were ground together to form this meat.

If you come to my house today, you will not find these foods in my house.  Well, except for Duke’s mayonnaise…..it’s required in my famous potato salad!

 

2015 Day 29: Food for the Road

If you have read any of my previous posts, you are aware that I was a teacher for many years.  I loved working with children!  I also worked with some pretty fantastic teachers.  We talked all at the same time and could finish one another’s sentences.  It was great! We were also a little crazy.  By that, I mean we thought it was FUN to take eighth grade students out of town overnight.  Actually we took them out of town for three nights.  You are now saying-“Yep, she’s crazy.”    I am and so were they!

We had a big environmental unit that we taught.  One of the ending activities was to spend several days at an environmental center for students.  We had a great time exploring ocean topics and the environmental issues.  Kids wanted to be on our team and parents wanted them with us, too. In order to take 60 students out of town for several days, we had to have some plans that kept everyone busy and at the same time, made the trip affordable.  Since the first and last day involved 7 plus hours on a school bus, we had to have plans for food.  Cheap food.

Going down was easy.  Everyone brought a snack and a lunch and we had a big cooler.  No problem.  Coming back was harder because there were no Moms to pack that lunch.  The first year we decided to let the camp provide us with box lunches.  Big mistake.  The food was good but geared more to older students-not middle school ones.  The next year we had a better plan for coming home on the interstate food.  McDonald’s????  NO.  Burger King???? NO.

With a fist full of coupons, we stopped at a local grocery store.  We had made major math calculations prior to the trip.  We filled two grocery buggies with loaves of bread, peanut butter (because NO ONE was allergic in those days), jelly, bologna (yes we ate that, too), cheese, individual potato chip bags, huge jars of pickles, canned drinks (I know, I know you are shocked), and enough LIttle Debbie snack pies to keep all of us on a sugar high.

Did we stop at a roadside park and have a leisurely picnic? Nope.  Stopping to let 60 people have a pit stop took forever. So we didn’t stop to eat.  We put the coolers that were filled with food in the back of the bus on the floor.  The longest one we put on the back seat and formed a work table.  Two of us made sandwiches on that table, wrapped it in a paper towel and passed it to a child.  If you wanted that kind-you kept it.  If you didn’t, you passed it to the child in front of you.  Easy peasy.  In no time everyone had a sandwich.  We had poured out the liquid in the pickle jars and passed them up the seats ,too.  If you wanted a pickle, you got one out.  Otherwise, pass it forward.  The chips were easy and handled the same way.  A teacher in front passed out canned sodas.  In no time, everyone was eating.  When they finished, they shouted out a request for a new sandwich and we made it and passed it up the seats.  We then did the Little Debbie pies.  We covered a lot of miles in the silence of eighth graders eating.  Was it fancy? No but everyone ate every single thing we had.  Our road food was a success!

Every year after that, we did this same food prep and distribution.  It’s amazing how many sandwiches you can make while riding in a bus on the interstate!

2015 Day 28: Second Story Living

I really loved visiting my grandparents! They led a really different kind of daily life. First of all, they lived up north in Illinois. My cousins teased me about my accent which was fine. I teased them about their accent. Most of my aunts and uncles lived fairly close to each other. That meant that when we came to town we got to see tons of people. My grandparents lived in town. They had no car. They walked to where they needed to go. Or they rode the bus. Or they rode the train to other towns-like Chicago.  What fascinated me the most is that they lived over a storefront. There was a business downstairs and they lived above it. They had nothing to do with the business. They just rented the apartment over it. Living over a storefront was a pretty common practice in their area.

My grandparents’ apartment was pretty big for just the two of them. The front room was a big room and served several purposes. There was a living room part with a sofa and chairs. There was a dining table that would expand a lot. When everyone was there, we hovered around 20 people. The expandable table was for the adults. Children were seated at various card tables around the room. This front room also contained Grandma’s quilting frame. I can never remember going to her house that the quilting frame was down. She was always, and I mean ALWAYS, working on a quilt for someone.  The quilt was hand stitched. Every single stitch-I am not kidding-was hand stitched. I still have the quilt she made for me when I was 6. It was for my bed. I STILL have that quilt on my bed. I still use it. It is almost 60 years old! My Grandma would sit by the frame  for several hours a day, making tiny even stitches on each section.  They were all a work of art.

So my grandparents lived upstairs. And my Grandma quilted. So why was I so wild about this whole thing? I need to mention that the business downstairs was a bakery. Ahhhh. Every morning about 3:30, the fragrant smell of bread and yeast would float right up to the apartment. I could not sleep once I got that first whiff. About 6 am, my Grandpa would go down the back stairs and knock on the back door and the baker would give him fresh hot doughnuts.  Well, what could be better than fresh doughnuts in the morning-every morning? As a child, I couldn’t think of a single thing that was better! So now you know the “rest” of my post about second story living!

 

 

2015 Day 16: Wha-cha Have?

As I drove home tonight after having dinner with my husband and daughter,  I noticed that one of the “fast food” places had been torn down to make way for a—–ah, BLISS–a Krispy Kreme.  I have wanted one that made HOT doughnuts in my town for ages. Finally, we are getting one!  It also reminded me of all those fast food places that were in the town where I grew up. I though this would be a great post for tonight.

First, let me gather up the extensive list I have made of fast food restaurants in Marietta during the early 1950’s.  You see, there were none.  That’s right-NONE.  NOT.A.SINGLE.FAST.FOOD. PLACE. So you are probably wondering what in the world people did about feeding their family as they drove to ball practice or dance or cheerleading.  Well, that is easy.  They ate at home.  Or they ate when they got back home.  That’s it.  End of discussion. People just ate at home.

In 1955, that began to change. McDonald’s was born.  When one opened in Marietta, it was on the 4 Lane near the runway for Lockheed and the Naval Air Station.  Probably they got a good deal because it was not very quiet with planes zipping in and out all day.  It was a walk up.  You parked your car and you walked up to the window and ordered and paid.  Then you moved to the next window where you picked up your order.  They had cement picnic tables where you could sit down outside.  Lots of people just went back to their car and ate there.  They had the coolest sign that said how many burgers they had sold.  And it changed as they sold more.  They didn’t have a big variety of burgers.  They had hamburgers and cheeseburgers and sodas and French fries.  Those fries were something else.  They were HOT and SALTY and had the best flavor.  Much better than today.  And I can tell you the…shhhhh….secret.  Want to know? Really want to know?  L.A.R.D.  Yep. They fried those slender tater strips in lard.  Oh MY! Be still my heart as it is headed for cardiac arrest from all that lard.  They were amazing.

But my favorite fast food place in the world was not in Marietta. It was in Atlanta and was called the Varsity. The “legend” behind the start of the Varsity is that a Ga. Tech student flunked out and was told he would never be successful. So he went down a block and bought some land  and started the Varsity in 1928.  He sure showed Ga. Tech because tons of students eat there daily-still.  My Dad was a student there and that is about all the food he ever had—-Burgers and Hot Dogs with or without chili with onion rings or fries.  They were the best.  You could drive into the  parking lot and a waiter would jump onto your car and take your order when you parked.  Some of the waiters were legendary.  Or you could go inside the Varsity and order at one of the many order stations.  The person in charge would say-Wha-cha have? Wha-cha have? And you would tell him. Every day the main corridor of the Varsity looked like an ant hill.  People were everywhere-touching each other-holding their order-pushing through the crowd.  You could literally walk from one end to the other on the shoulders of customers. That is how many people where in there.  Once you got your food inside, you could sit in one of the rooms in wooden desks and watch TV.  What a great idea! Watching TV and eating at the same time.  Hmmm-sounds rather like today’s family dinner.

My favorite meal was a chili-mustard steak with onion rings and a Coca-Cola. Or I had a chili dog with rings. Sometimes I had a naked steak.  Love that terminology! To end the meal, I ALWAYS had a peach pie.  It was hand made and then fried to a crispy golden brown.  Oh it was heavenly.

To this day, I can still have those same foods at the Varsity.   Are they as good as when I was a child?  Nope.  There is ONE ingredient that is missing. It is LARD.  They fried everything in lard. And was it good! Those animals fats give a wonderful flavor to fried foods.   Please let me remind you that lard was a perfectly acceptable food ingredient in those days.

Today, fast food addicts can satisfy their hunger with a variety of foods. And these foods are lard free. Hallejah! We have seen the light!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Day 15: Happy Birthday Coffy

Hobart Carter Coffman was my father in law.  He was kind, funny, a hard worker, an awesome cook and loved his grandchildren beyond words.  Heaven is a better place with him there.

When I first met Coffy, he was fishing on the dock at the trailer.  The trailer was the summer home that he and Charlotte, my mother in law, escaped to every year.  It was heavily wooded and cool during the hottest of summer days.  And the lake was a stone’s throw away.  I had never dated anyone who had a home at the lake and I thought it was the best idea in the world.  Who wouldn’t like to live  right beside that huge lake filled with clear water that allowed you to swim ANY TIME you wanted? It was perfect!

While Coffy was fishing on the dock, Charlotte was inside making her “famous” potato salad.  It was the kind of potato salad that someone in the South might call—Slap your Momma potato salad.  I know that sounds awful but it MEANS that it is SO GOOD that NO ONE can describe it! What Charlotte did was teach ME to make it.  To this day, I am asked to bring potato salad to everything.  I never bring home a bowl with anything left. NEVER.

Later Charlotte and Coffy retired and  built a permanent house on the lake and my children LOVED to go spend a week with them.  Shoot. I loved to go spend any time with them. Charlotte knew everything about the family and told the funniest stories.  Coffy was an amazing gardener and cook.   He always sat at the head of the table. My daughter sat at one side and my son at the other.  He would start the dish passing after Grace.  He always dipped out the food for my children.  He would do David first. He would say, “David, would you like some broccoli?”  David would say, “No Granddaddy.”  Coffy would put a spoonful on his plate anyway. You see Coffy grew that broccoli and you always ate everything that he grew whether you liked it or not!  Then he would say, “Shell, would you like some broccoli” and she would reply,”Yes Granddaddy. Just a little.” So he put a little on her plate. It took David a little while to catch on to what to say.  Then Coffy would pick up the next bowl of homegrown veggies and it would start the same way.  It was hilarious to watch.

Shell loved to follow her granddaddy around in his enormous garden.  She would be sitting right beside him doing whatever he was doing.  David on the other hand, would be inside cleaning under the supervision of Charlotte.  He did not like to garden in the sun! Both of them got to go fishing with Coffy.  They loved being able to get in the boat with their Granddaddy and go fishing.

Whenever we left their house, Coffy always sent something home with us.  He had an extra refrigerator in his carport room.  It was really a frig that had once been inside the kitchen. Coffy never got rid of a single thing that still had use in it.  The top of the frig was filled with glass bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.  He recycled the bottles, of course.  He never offered me one. I never saw him even tipsy. Never.  The rest of the frig was filled with veggies that he had not canned or frozen yet.  He would immediately begin filling a grocery bag with veggies to take home.  He was also a fisherman and we brought home the best fillets frozen in washed milk cartons and water.  How I wish I had his hush puppy knowledge!

Because of Coffy, I became a backyard gardener, too.  I learned to make sausage gravy from Coffy.  I learned to cook rabbit because he grew those, too.  I can still see him on his porch with a smile on his face, hugging my children and then me.  He taught me a LOT about being a grandparent. About having a kind voice. About being patient.  And he never even realized that he was doing that.  I miss him still.  But the lessons he taught me—-well they are with me still.  Love you Coffy.

2015 Day 9: Welcome to Scout Haven!

I was lucky enough to be in Girl Scouts as a child.  I met a lot of people that were terrific.  I got to be outside and camp a bunch.  I had a sash with a lot of badges. I loved being in Girl Scouts!

My first experience was with Brownies.  The mother of my best friend was our leader.  I only had to walk up two houses in order to reach the meeting place.  It was great!  And we got to go to Day Camp at Scout Haven during the summer.  That was the best! We meet at the Scout Hut in town and rode a bus to the camp which was about 30 minutes away.  The entire time on the bus we sang songs together.  One of the first ones I learned was “The Ants Go Marching”.  We were not restricted from religious songs so we also did Kum By Yah.  We sang rounds with one side of the bus being one group and the other side being the second group.  The time flew by.

Once at camp, we met up with our patrol which was a smaller group of girls plus a leader and assistant.  Generally these were high school or college girls.  They were idolized by all us young Scouts. The first order of every day was the raising of the flag.  The best job for the day was to be in the color guard and help with the flag raising.  Generally a camper would get to do it once each camp.  It was a great job.  Then we would leave the flag circle and go with our patrol to  the First Aid hut to get a big pinch of sulfur to put in our socks to keep bugs away.  Yes, we did the sulfur every day!  During the day we would have crafts, camping skills classes like putting up tents or cooking, and swimming in the lake.  We also all had chores to do to keep the camp clean and tidy.  Each patrol had a chore chart.  The yuckiest job was the latrine orderly.  In case you are uninformed about latrines, they are outhouses.  And since you “used” them, you had to help clean them.  I can remember ours being fairly new.  They had two little seat areas that were separate and afforded some privacy  The latrine workers had to sweep the latrine.  Then they had to put a big scoop of lime into each privy hole.  Finally, you used a big brush to wash the seat with PineSol.  So now you know how to care for a privy!  All us city girls were really fascinated by the whole outhouse thing!

On the last night of camp, all us little Brownies had a parent night.  We did skits about what we had learned.  We displayed our crafts. And we cooked out the perfect supper–Girl Scout Stew (which I still cook to this very day). Everyone toasted marshmallows and made S’mores which was a real treat!

The last year of Brownie Day Camp gave campers the chance to spend the next to the last night at camp. Oh boy! I loved that. I had a new flashlight, a sleeping bag—I was ready for anything.  We spent the most of that day putting up our tents, making a fire circle to cook our dinner that night, and just being excited! We cooked our dinner over the open fire and breakfast, too.  It was then that I realized that camping was my favorite thing to do. I love being outside and watching the sun come up.  I love listening to the frogs and birds.  There is nothing better.  Thank you Scout Haven!

2015 Day 8: The Pickle Girl

I have always had a taste for some very specific foods.  My Nannie taught me the wonder of fresh corn, butter beans, cucumber salad and hot tea with a little milk.  My neighbor taught me the goodness of freshly fried okra.  Oh my! I can taste that right now.  My Dad taught me the wonder of an unusual food-dill pickles.  He was a pickle man.  His favorite was a brand that was described as genuine dills.  Not kosher.  Not spicy.  Not those little gherkins.  Not sweet.  He was a dill pickle man from the top of his head to his feet.  His favorite snack was a chilled dill pickle that he would carefully cut into fat slices and a small stack of soda crackers.  He would eat a slice and then eat a cracker.  What can we say-he was a precise creature of habit. He also had his OWN jar of pickles.  No one ate from his jar.  Ever.

From the time I was a little girl, I loved pickles, too.  Sometimes Dad would give me a smaller slice to enjoy.  I loved them.  So my Mom started to buy two jars of pickles.  Because I was not as picky as Dad, she would frequently purchase a different kind of dill pickle.  Sometimes she would buy slices because they were on sale.  Sometimes she bought kosher ones.  Sometimes she bought whole dills.  I was fine with anything she bought.  To me a pickle is a pickle. If they were those thin slices, I would fill a coffee cup with slices to munch on as a snack.  Or I might fill a cup with slices to eat with a sandwich.  My Mom even sent  pickles in my lunch.  That was hard because they were juicy and would leak.  My lunchbox always smelled like pickles.

When I turned 8 years old, we had a family party for my birthday.  I liked that the best.  My Mom would always get a cake from Pat-A-Cake Bakery.  It was a white layer cake with confectioners sugar icing and lots of roses on top.  That was my favorite cake.  After dinner, I would open presents from my parents and grandparents.  Then we would have cake. Yum! That year, I opened a card from my Nannie.  She always sent me money for books.  Yay!  And my Grandma would sent me a card with money, too.  More books!  I don’t remember what my Mom did for me because my Dad’s present just blew me away.  It was a BIG box.  And heavy. I could not imagine what it was.  When I got the paper off, I found a huge GALLON jar of dill pickles! We all laughed and laughed about the pickles.  I was happy as a clam.  I had a ton of pickles to eat ALL BY MYSELF!!!

Happy Birthday to ME!  The Official Pickle Birthday Girl!

Day 18:My 15 Seconds of Fame

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I have heard somewhere that everyone has 15 minutes of fame. I am not sure what defines the “fame” but I thought I would go with 15 seconds of fame and tell about my watermelon!  The setting  is a cold January in the 1950’s. Probably in a Big Star Grocery store. The produce manager is holding the knife and the melon. And I am taking a big bite. I am the one with the squinty eye, the long sleeve blouse with cuff links, a belt and a skirt-probably woolen.

My dad loved to go grocery shopping! And he had a thing for watermelon! So when he found a watermelon in August at the grocery store, he snapped it up. After the groceries were unloaded and stored, the watermelon somehow was placed between the refrigerator and the kitchen wall. And there it sat.

Through the month of August. Through the month of September. Through the month of October.  Through  all of November. Through all of December.

Oops! Now we are in another year and the poor watermelon was still sitting there. Here is where my parents began to say things like-honey take that out. I bet it is rotten!  On the other hand, I was saying let’s cut it up and eat it!  After much discussion, the produce manager said to bring it by the store and he would cut it up and the newspaper would make pictures! So I got all dressed and we went off to the grocery store with our watermelon. It was yummy! You would never realize it had been sitting in the kitchen for 5 months.

And the produce manager even knew who grew the watermelon and gave his name to the reporter. So I am thinking he claimed his 15 minutes of fame, too!

Day 9: Signs of the Moon

I remember growing up in a quiet little neighborhood. There were about 24 families on our street. I didn’t know all of them. I only knew the ones that had children close to my age that my parents considered appropriate playmates. For example, if the parents drank beer, I was not allowed to play with them. Our neighbors on one side had two girls who were a little younger that I played with.  Our parents were great friends. Our families frequently cooked out together during the summer and early Fall.  The men would cook and talk. The women would sit in the swing and talk while the kids played freeze tag. After dinner, we would catch lightning bugs. We would always save our bugs in old mayonnaise jars. By then, our dinner had “settled” and we would either roast marshmallows on sticks over the coals or eat homemade ice cream.  Sometimes Mrs. W would make a chocolate cake. No one could make a cake that was as good as hers! It was a wonderful evening!

Mr. W  was “the” official griller. My dad was the helper. They would go together to purchase the meat several days before the cook-out. Sometimes we had hamburgers. Sometimes chicken. But my all time favorite was grilled ribs. They were scrumptious! Mr. W was a stickler for perfect ribs. So at the grocery store, he always asked to see the head butcher so he could have exactly the right ribs to cook. My dad didn’t mind the questions. Well-except for one! Mr. W always wanted to know the date the pig was killed. It had to be killed under a specific sign of the moon or he would NOT purchase them! The head butcher at the store we used was from our church and my Dad was always embarrassed by this sign of the moon question. But the butcher generally was able to come up with a date and then Mr. W would decide whether to get the ribs or not. I am not sure if the date was really correct but the men would go with what was said.

When ribs were going to be the  star at the cook-out, the two men would gather in Mr. W’s kitchen to make the sauce. No one was allowed in the kitchen during this time. It was a secret. Then the ribs were massaged and covered with a secret rub. Then they rested in the refrigerator all night. And the special sauce spent the night in the refrigerator so the spices could marry.

The day of the cookout started early.  The two men would head off to the “ice house” to get a block of ice for the ice cream freezer. In those days, our town had an ice house. There were no bags of ice. The men would make the ice cream base and start churning the ice cream. They would drink coffee and take turns turning the handle. Although we made several different flavors of ice cream, vanilla was the most requested. Next the charcoal had to be reduced to the just right kind of coals, before placing the ribs on the grill. The next period of time was critical. The ribs must sweat for a bit so they would be tender. Then came the secret sauce. By this time, all of us kids would be sitting at the picnic table waiting for the feast ahead.

When I was in ninth grade, Mr. W had a massive heart attack and died. I  was so sad for his wife and children and for my dad because they were best friends.  I will always remember him as that gentle soul who loved his family and who had a special place in my heart, too.

And frankly, ribs have never been the same for me! But then it might be because I didn’t check the signs of the moon first!